Thursday, February 28, 2013

"The Hasty Heart" (1949)

I have wanted to see this movie for about fifteen years, ever since I became fond of Richard Todd and learned that he'd been nominated for an Oscar for this.  But it never crossed my path until now.

Three things about this movie surprised me.

First, I was really surprised that this is not a love story!  Everything I'd ever read about it pointed toward this being a love-triangle movie, with Richard Todd and Ronald Reagan vying for Patricia Neal's heart.  Not so.  Oh, there's a bit of subtext here and there that makes it clear that Yank (Reagan) has a thing for Sister Parker (Neal).  And Lachie (Todd) does propose to her.  But that's not the actual point of the story.

Reagan and Neal misleading me
Second, I was surprised by how much I liked Ronald Reagan!  I've only seen him in a couple other things, and he was just kind of there, completely adequate, but not very interesting.  But he's really sweet in this, and has a couple of nice scenes that got me all sympathetic with him.  Saying one thing and his face showing the opposite, that sort of thing.

Ronald Reagan as Yank
Third, I was surprised by how caught up Cowboy got in the last part of the movie.  He'd been installing a new printer and changing our car's wiper blades while I watched this, so he really wasn't paying attention to the beginning, and I think he missed the bit at the beginning where the audience and most of the characters found out what was going on with Lachie.  So at the end, Cowboy got the same shock as Lachie when they made the second reveal (more on that in a minute), and instead of going upstairs to take a shower, he sat down and watched the last twenty minutes, which is pretty rare.

So anyway, The Hasty Heart is set in an Army hospital in Burma in 1945, at the tail end of  WWII.  Sister Margaret Parker runs a convalescent ward there, which is peopled by Yank (Ronald Reagan), Kiwi (Ralph Michael), Tommy (Howard Marion-Crawford), Digger (John Sherman), and a simple black man called Blossom (Orlando Martins).  Other than Blossom, they don't get names, just their nicknames for their home countries.  They're a jolly bunch, good pals that like to kid around a lot.

Richard Todd -- what a baby puppy he is!
Enter Cpl. Lachlan "Lachie" MacLachlan (Richard Todd), a Scotsman with the world's hugest chip on his shoulder.  More of a boulder than a chip, really.  He's twenty-four and very grim and angry, convinced the camp's commander hates him and is keeping him here for no good reason.  He caught shrapnel in the back, had a kidney removed, and has since healed nicely.  As far as he can see, there's no reason in the world he shouldn't be going home now that the war is over.

What Lachie doesn't know is that his remaining kidney is failing, and he only has a few weeks to live.  He's moved to Sister Parker's ward because the guys there are so friendly, his last few weeks can be full of joy and happiness.  Everyone in the movie except him knows about his failing kidney pretty well from the outset, so I'm not spoiling you here, honest.

Lachie hates the world.  He's a foundling, no family anywhere, no friends, no desire for friends (or so he tells himself).  The men try to make nice, but he rebuffs them again and again.

Yank telling Lachie off
But this wouldn't be much of a movie if it was just about him being a grouch, so you know that eventually, his hard shell cracks, and he makes friends.  He falls in love with Sister Parker too, for good measure.

Neal being sympathetic and Todd being grumpy
But then he learns the truth, and...  and I hope you see this, so I'm NOT giving away the ending.  It's easy to see why Todd was nominated for an Oscar for this!  My goodness, it's a tour-de-force of emotional upheaval, and he pulls it off splendidly.  Even when he's furious with the whole world, he just so clearly needs a hug that you can't get disgusted with him.  I've liked Richard Todd ever since I saw him in The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952) and D-DAY: The Sixth of June (1956).  He pulls off sweet and feisty really well.  Oh, and did I mention he has this marvelous Scottish brogue in this?  Thick and proud and very nicely done indeed.  Todd played the role on Broadway before the movie, which I'm sure helped him turn in such a nuanced, believable portrayal.

My only quibble with this movie is that Sister Parker is a nurse, but is called "sister," but kisses one of the soldiers, so is she a nun behaving out of character, or is she just called "sister" as an honorific of some sort?  Makes no sense, but it's not a major point at all and doesn't detract from my enjoyment of this movie.

Old-Fashioned Charm

The costumes were about what you'd expect from a WWII movie, lots of uniforms.  Lachie wears a full Scottish Highlander getup for a little bit, which is really spiffy, but can you believe I can't find a single picture of it?  So I experimented with Windows' "Snipping Tool" and took this:


In absence of a good screencap program, this'll do for now, I guess.

Anyway, is this a family-friendly movie?  Absolutely!  There are a couple of explosions in a war setting at the beginning, but no blood or gore, and there's a chaste kiss or two, and a running joke about whether or not you're supposed to wear underwear under a kilt, but it'sj ust harmless, silly fun, not vulgar.  I would let my kids watch this, and they're only 1, 3, and 5.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In Concert!

I'm so excited!  The Piano Guys are going on tour!!  And they're going to be here in Northern Virginia in October!!!  And so I think we probably will actually go to see them in concert!!!!

I haven't posted here much about them, I don't think.  Silly me!  Cowboy discovered them a couple of years ago when he was searching YouTube for a video to amuse the kids.  We've been devoted fans ever since -- we have two of their albums and have bought a bunch of their mp3s from their store too.  Their name is a little misleading -- most of their stuff is done by one piano guy (Jon Schmidt) and one cello guy (Steven Sharp Nelson).  Some of the songs are one or the other of them, but most are both together.  They write their own arrangements, often pairing a pop song with a classical one.  They do a fair number of movie themes too.  Here's their Lord of the Rings medley:



Did I mention their videos?  Their amazing, how-did-they-get-a-grand-piano-there videos?  The above medley is not entirely representative of their style, as it's pretty much a straight medley, not a jazzed-up or bounced-up or rocked-out version of the music.  This video is more like their usual style:



That happens to be my kids' favorite song ever, thanks to that video :-)  Please, go visit their YouTube channel if you like this kind of music -- you will not be disappointed!

Okay, I just have to share one more video, just because I've been on such a Les Miserables kick lately.  Here's their version of "Bring Him Home," another fairly straight-forward piece:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" (1993) -- Review and Giveaway!

I'm giving away an unopened, brand-new copy of season one of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (17 episodes on 5 dvds)!  Details after my review.


My mom, little brother, and I first started watching Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman during its third season, in 1996.  We became devoted fans, and watched it every week until it ended in 1998.  (And I'll have you know I was a proud part of those viewer protests about its cancellation.)  It was the first modern TV show I'd ever watched, other than kids shows like Reading Rainbow.  Thanks to reruns on another channel, we did get to see a lot of the older episodes once we were fans, but I never saw the pilot until after I went to college and found it on VHS.  And it's the pilot I'm going to review here, as it's as long as two episodes and basically a little made-for-TV movie, very self-contained.

Michaela Quinn (Jane Seymour) is the youngest daughter of a Boston doctor.  Determined to follow in her father's footsteps, she earns her own medical degree at a woman's college despite resistance from her mother and society in general.  Her father makes her a partner in his medical practice, but when he dies, the patients stop coming.  So Michaela answers an advertisement for a town doctor in the frontier town of Colorado Springs, CO.  When she arrives, she learns that they are expecting a male doctor -- they thought she had signed her application Michael A. Quinn.  Being (to borrow a phrase from Jane Austen) an obstinate, headstrong woman, she stays and tries to convince the townspeople she's a qualified doctor.

Dr. Michaela Quinn with her doctoring bag
At first, only two people take her seriously.  One is Charlotte (Diane Ladd), the local midwife -- she calls Dr. Quinn in to assist with a difficult birth, and Dr. Quinn performs an emergency C-section and saves both mother and baby.  She also helps Dr. Mike (as she comes to be known) learn how to survive and prosper without servants and other trappings of her privileged Boston upbringing.  

The other person who takes Dr. Quinn seriously from the first is a man named Sully (Joe Land), a miner whose wife died in childbirth because the town had no doctor.  After his wife died, Sully went to live with the Cheyenne and now serves as an interpreter for them during parleys with the local Cavalry contingent.  He rents Dr. Mike his cabin and helps her out of several scrapes. 

The helpful and mysterious Sully
The pilot is very episodic, with Dr. Mike having adventure after adventure.  This helps introduce various townspeople, several of whom are not played by the same actors as they would be in the rest of the series.  Dr. Mike attends a few patients, and loses a couple of them because of lack of time or supplies, things she would have had plenty of back in Boston.  One of her patients, while dying, entrusts her three children to Dr. Mike's care, which thrusts her suddenly into the role of mother, one she's woefully unprepared for.

Dr. Quinn with Colleen, Matthew, and Brian Cooper
The whole series, but especially this pilot, reminds me of some of Janette Oke's books, though it's not as overtly Christian.  Still, in this episode alone, Dr. Mike leads her new family in prayer at the table and refers to Christmas Eve as the eve of Jesus' birth.  One of the main characters is a preacher, and Christianity is treated respectfully in the series as a whole.  However, the Cherokee religion is also treated respectfully -- this is a Hollywood production, after all, so you get about what you would expect.

Old-Fashioned Charm
The costumes in this series are a joy -- Dr. Quinn wears fancier clothes at first, then tones them down when she realizes that they are a) not practical on the frontier, and b) make all the other women in town envious.  One of her dresses has a V-neckline that plunges a bit far, but manages not to show off any, shall we say, decolletage.  Because this is an older show, and because I am a very silly person and don't have a screencap program, I don't have a lot of pictures for this post, but I hope the ones I did find can give you an idea of what the costumes are like.

Is this series family-friendly?  Mostly.  In this pilot, Dr. Mike treats a saloon girl for a "female problem" (the saloon girl's "activities" are alluded to, but only obliquely) and performs an emergency c-section on a laboring woman who is screaming until Dr. Mike administers some ether.  The c-section shows Dr. Mike's hands being bloody, but nothing else.  This pilot doesn't contain any swear words or other objectionable content, but I do recall that the series as a whole had an occasional swear word, and there are sometimes violent scenes -- this is basically a western, after all.  Later on, in season 4, Dr. Mike gets married, and a few scenes between her and her husband get a leeeeeetle steamy, but not gratuitous.

Now for the GIVEAWAY!!!!
Yes, I am giving away the complete first season of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman!  I have the complete series myself, but I acquired an extra copy of season one, and it could be yours for free!  (These are Region One DVDs, just so you know.)  Besides the original 17 episodes, the discs also include am A&E biography of Jane Seymour, an "interactive tour of 19th century Colorado Springs," and other goodies.

Please note:  if you are under the age of 18, PLEASE get your parents' permission to enter this giveaway.  Obviously, I can't enforce such a request, but I'd hate for someone to win this set and then have their parents object for whatever reason (like the fact that you'll have to give me a mailing address).  So just do yourself a favor and be sure it's okay with them.

How can you enter?  Simple -- just comment on this post.  

(If for some reason you don't want to win, like if you already have these dvds, you can still leave a comment, just be sure to state in it that you don't want to enter the giveaway.)

If you want a second entry, you can mention this giveaway on your own blog, and then comment here again with a link to your blog post about the giveaway.

That's it!  This giveaway runs from February 21 to March 7 -- I will draw a winner on the morning of March 8, and the winner will have 48 hours to send me their mailing address.  If they haven't replied within 48 hours, I'll choose a new winner from the other entries.
PLEASE NOTE:  THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Because Chocolate is Too Pedestrian

Cowboy, aka my husband of 10 years, was in LA for two weeks on business.  He flew back on Valentine's Day, but explained that, while he'd bought me something perfectly splendid, he couldn't figure out a way to get it on the plane.  So he sent it by mail.  He's been giving me tantalizing hints ever since, trying to get me to guess what it was.  And this morning, it arrived.  The doorbell rang, and what to my wondering eyes should appear on my front steps but:


THOR!  Odin's Son, mighty Avenger, heir to the throne of Asgard!  And, as you can see, he's nearly life-size.

I invited him inside, where I just had to give him a hug and reassure him that even though Loki is a brat, Thor has my undying affection, so everything will be okay.  Now he's here in the living room, watching over my shoulder while I type.  Amazingly enough, I've actually managed to teach school, do a few chores, and run an errand, all while the mighty Thor is right here, in my house, looking fierce and fascinating.

All this is to say... I have the best husband in the world, don't I?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sawyer!

If you were a real person, you would be 45 today (according to Wikipedia, anyway).  Thank you for conning your way into my heart and making me smile with your scruffy ways.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Persuasion" (1995)

Although Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, I'd never seen a movie version of it.  So when I found a used copy on Amazon, I snapped it up.  My mom and I watched it over the last couple of nights, and I have to say that I have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, I think the screenwriter should be beaten about the head with hardcover copies of the novel.  Unless you are familiar with the story, you are going to be lost the first time you watch this.  Not optimal!  My mom has never read Persuasion (travesty, I know), and by the time the movie was half over, she was still unclear as to just what had transpired previously between Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth!  Not only that, but they really made it difficult to understand that there were two Wentworth brothers, mentioning it just once in almost an aside until the news of the Wentworth marriage arrived.  

But mostly, I reeeeeeeally wish they'd used some sort of voice-over narration for this movie, because Anne is a quiet character with a lot going on inside her head.  Her non-wordiness is part of why I love her, but without enough spoken dialog to convey her depths, poor Amanda Root was forced to do a lot of looking wide-eyed and thoughtful in order to get the viewers to see that she was anything other than boring.  And honestly, next to the vivacious, cheerful Misses Musgrove, she looked positively dull sometimes.


When she smiled, though, you could see why Wentworth had fallen in love with her eight years previously.  Then she sparkled and was quite charming.


However, I forgive the movie itself for those faults because of one very important factor:  Ciaran Hinds as Captain Frederick Wentworth.

Fore-and-aft for Captain Wentworth
(And also because they accurately had Admiral Croft wearing his hat athwartships, but the younger captains were wearing theirs fore-and-aft, a style change that happened right about then.  Kudos to the wardrobe department!)

Athwartships for Admiral Croft
But back to Ciaran Hinds (whose name I have, all these years, mispronounced as "char-an" when it's actually "kier-an."  I do apologize!)  He's one of those prolific, reliable actors who pop up all over the place -- I just spotted him in "The Cardboard Box" a couple weeks ago.  I mostly remembered him from The Sum of All Fears and Amazing Grace, but I know I've seen him in probably close to a dozen things.  However, I've never seen him really play a romantic lead before, and I went into this going, "Really?  Ciaran Hinds as Wentworth?  I can't see it."  Because my personal image of Wentworth is of someone tall, broad-shouldered, athletically trim, with brown hair parted on the side, and a lean and handsome face.  A very specific image, I do admit, but remember this is my favorite Austen novel.  Ciaran's taller than average, but also kind of funny looking.  Thinnish lips, large chin, high forehead.


But forget all that.  Wipe it from your mental harddrive this instant.  Because he is a perfect Wentworth.  Proud, but not haughty. Dignified, but with a sense of humor.  And capable of the most wounded expressions, with eyes that are so eloquent, they could have their own lines of dialog.


So, not only am I now a fan of this movie despite its defects, I'm thoroughly convinced of Ciaran Hinds' abilities as a romantic lead, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of the version of Jane Eyre that has him be Mr. Rochester!

Old-Fashioned Charm
 
 The costumes seemed correct, most of them practical and not splendiferous.  Except the naval uniforms, those were quite lovely.  Everyone else had a lot of earth tones. 
 
 
And this movie is very family-friendly and faithful to the novel -- no added scenes to spice things up, etc.  Oh, Wentworth did say d--n a couple of times.  But that's all you need be concerned about.

Happy V Day!

V as in Vic, of course.  Let's all celebrate his birthday by watching a fanvid, shall we?  The one I wanted to post today isn't embeddable here, so click this link instead.

Let's pretend he's sniffing the box of brownies I sent him for his birthday.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"The King's Speech" (2010)

I nearly got to see this in the theater with a friend when Cowboy and I were searching for an apartment before we moved to Virginia.  But we went to see the True Grit remake instead.  I have to say, I'm kind of glad we made that choice, not because I liked True Grit better, but because that had some sweeping shots of lovely western landscapes that really benefited from the big screen. The King's Speech, on the other hand, is an extremely intimate movie, very character-focused, limited both in scope and scenery.  There are only a handful of outside shots, very few that are shot from far enough away that you can see anyone full-length.  Perfectly fine to watch in the living room.

The King's Speech concerns King George VI (Colin Firth) of England, beginning when he's just a spare heir with an ailing father and a playboy older brother who is set to inherit the throne.  He also has two beautiful daughters, a very supportive wife (Helena Bonham Carter), and a dreadful stammer.  Oh, and his name isn't George at all, it's Albert.  Got it?

Albert (Colin Firth) and Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter)

Right, so his wife convinces him to try this new speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who has unorthodox methods but gets Albert speaking more clearly.  Then King George V (Michael Gambon) dies, and Albert's older brother becomes King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) but insists he wants to marry this twice-divorced woman, which totally can't happen since as king he's also head of the Church of England and they won't hear of it, especially the Archbishop (a perpetually affronted Derek Jacobi).  Edward abdicates and Albert takes the name George and is king, king, king!!!

Except he doesn't want to be king, he's scared out of his bowtie, and he still stammers dreadfully.  Oh, and did I mention there's this dude named Hitler trying to take over the universe?  Let the good times roll.


Colin Firth deserved his Oscar, I will say that.  He's conflicted and sad and sometimes pathetic, but also brave and intelligent and so horribly, horribly aware of his speech impediment.  I can't imagine what it must be like to turn in such a brutally bare performance, and I don't want to -- I spent the whole movie feeling extremely sad for Albert, and to play him, much less be him?  Ouch.  This is not a comfortable movie to watch, though it does have a triumphant ending.  But I don't think I'll be rewatching it, at least not for many years.

Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth

I wanted to see this mainly because I was eager to see Helena Bonham Carter playing a character who wasn't Miss Havisham with a hairspray addiction.  And I absolutely loved her!  She was hands-down my favorite character -- her Elizabeth was supportive without being pushy, affectionate without being saccharine.  Wonderful.

Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush)

Who but Geoffrey Rush to play a rough-and-ready therapist?  Not much to say about him, other than that he did not disappoint.  Does he ever?  Not one of my favorite actors, but definitely one I respect.

Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall)

There was only one actor that I couldn't quite accept in their role, and that was Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill.  And that was partly because I couldn't rid my mind of his performances as Peter "Wormtail" Pettigrew in the Harry Potter movies.  Plus, his only resemblance to Churchill was his balding head and the way he pushed his lower lip out all the time -- he looked more like Alfred Hitchcock to me, but whatever, he had a tiny role anyway.

Old-Fashioned Charm

I love everything about the WWII era (well, everything except all the horrible death and destruction), so I found all the costumes here so delightful!  This is the eve of WWII, of course, but close enough.  This is the one costume I remembered most now that it's been a few days since I watched this:


It struck me at the time as being very much a costume -- and I don't mean the movie kind, exactly.  I mean that he was quite obviously dressed up to look the way everyone expected the new king to look, wearing all sorts of traditional male frippery.

I loved this one, though, mostly cuz I have a thing for suspenders:


And I love this shot of Elizabeth pouring tea:


She has a lot of furs, and some of the most magnificent hats.  This one was particularly striking, but she wore all of them with great panache:


Lionel Logue mostly wore very tweedy, fade-into-the-background clothes, as befitted his role as the man behind the king's speech improvements:


Right, so this is rated R because Lionel discovers Bertie doesn't stammer when he curses, so he gets him to shout out every single curse word he knows, yelling obscenity after obscenity in an emotionally relieving torrent.  There are a couple other moments where he tosses off a few obscenities to get into the flow of speaking, so you can't just skip that one scene and be safe.  Best to either find a Bowdlerized version or watch with a trusted friend who knows which bits to mute, if you are adverse to hearing some completely out-of-context but very strong swear words.  Other than that, there are a couple mentions of people enjoying a woman's favors (using that exact phrase), and that's all that I could find objectionable.

At any rate, a lovingly crafted movie, meticulously recreating the world as it once was.  Blissfully, deliciously acted.  Worth the praise it has acquired, in my opinion.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

"The Cardboard Box" (1994)

This is the very last episode of the very last Sherlock Holmes series starring Jeremy Brett -- he died a year later of a heart attack.  My husband and I have been watching our way through all of them in order, but I decided to watch this one out of order because Joanna David guest stars, and since I'd just watched her opposite Jeremy Brett in Rebecca, I thought it would be nice to see them play opposite each other again.

I'd seen "The Cardboard Box" before, back when we lived in Wisconsin and watched nearly all the Brett versions thanks to the lovely library system there.  I remembered the basic plot, but not the particulars.  And I was pleasantly surprised to find that Ciaran Hinds also guest-stars in it!  He turned in the sort of nuanced performance you would expect, elevating his character from a simple sailor and wronged husband into someone very sympathetic.

Okay, without giving too much away, here's the plot:  Miss Susan Cushing (Joanna David) consults Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett) about the disappearance of her sister, Mary Browner (Lucy Whybrow).  She thinks Mary has run away with a man their other sister, Sarah Cushing (Deborah Findlay) pushed Mary into having an extramarital affair with.  Holmes says he can do nothing for her.  Later, at Christmas, Susan receives a horrible present:  a cardboard box containing two human ears.  Holmes is consulted by the authorities, and he and Dr. Watson (Edward Hardwicke) solve the mystery, of course.  Ciaran Hinds plays Mary's husband, Jim Browner.

Holmes and Watson
I was sad to see Jeremy Brett looking so old and tired in this because we've been in the middle of the second series, filmed eight years earlier, and he's in much better health there than here.


 I honestly don't know that much about period costumes, so I'll just say that the clothes in these Sherlock Holmes series have always matched my idea of Victorian styles. 

Is this particular episode family-friendly?  Pretty much -- it involves an extra-marital affair and murder, but neither are discussed or shown in detail.  Not appropriate for small kids, though.

Friday, February 01, 2013

A Realization and a Revelation

A few months ago, my dear friend Deborah Koren, her sister, and I were ruminating on just what makes us like certain movies, TV shows, and books, and what makes us either not care for or actively dislike others.  Was there a common denominator, we wondered?  A discernible pattern that could explain our tastes, maybe even predict whether or not we would like something.

We came to what we now fondly call the Realization.  There IS something for each of us that draws us to one story and repels us from another.  And every person has their own particular thing!

For me to really like a movie/show/book, I have to want to be friends with several characters.  Not all, necessarily, but if I have a desire to hang out with some of them, I'm going to like it, maybe even love it.  It holds true for every single story that I'm drawn to.  And if there are no characters I want to befriend?  I can recognize the story as well-told, well-acted, etc, but I am not going to like it, certainly not love it.  I am not going to want to watch or read it over and over.

Deborah, on the other hand, needs there to be at least one character that she would like to be.  Someone she identifies with or can imagine herself being.  Totally, completely different thing, and this explains so clearly why a movie that I adore will leave her cold, and something that has her all fired up will make me shrug my shoulders.

We started applying the Realization to everything we ran across, and it has not failed us yet.

Just in the last few days, however, we have had a Revelation that sharpens the Realization just a bit.  That helps us figure out not merely whether we will like a movie/show/book, but which characters we will like best.  It turns out that each of us is drawn to characters that share one particular trait with ourselves.

Me?  I am completely drawn to helpful people.  If someone needs help, and another character steps in to assist them, I'm going to like that helper.  If they turn the other way and don't help, I'm not going to like them at all.  Doesn't matter if they help willingly or with a mutter of annoyance, they just need to be helpful.  You line up every single character that I love unreservedly -- Sgt. Saunders, Angel, Sawyer, Wolverine, Thor, Han Solo, Agent Seeley Booth, Jim Craig, Willow Rosenberg, Heath Barkley -- every single one is helpful.  And I am all about helping!  If I can't be helpful or useful, I get kind of annoyed with the world.  (This doesn't mean I like every helpful character -- Jack Shepard comes to mind -- but every character I do like is helpful.)

Deborah, on the other hand, loves characters who protect others.  And she says that, as an older sister, she grew up with a great need to protect her younger sister and also anyone else who might need it.

We've shared the Realization with several friends, and so far, every single friend has figured out their own common denominator for stories, and been delighted to see how it explains what had previously seemed like crazy, random happenstances.

So now I'm sharing this with you, gentle readers.  If you feel like getting to know yourself a bit better, see if you can figure out what trait your liked movies/shows/books share.  What is it that draws you to the story, to the characters?  What repels you?  And what is the make-or-break reason you like or dislike a character?  If you have your own Realization and/or Revelation, please comment here, because I find this completely fascinating.